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VIENNA LIFEBALL COMBATS AIDS AND HIV

One life, But we’re not the same, We get to Carry each other, Carry each other – U2, One
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More vulnerable than the burlesque actress donning nothing more than blue body paint, Lifeball organizer, Gery Keszler, made an on stage confession at this past Saturday night’s Lifeball that struck a chord still resonating days after the event.

Amidst the glitz and glam, golden clogs and leather flogs, Gery Keszler stood tall in front of an audience of thousands and announced that for over 20 years, he’s been living HIV positive. Tears streamed down his face as he shared his story of traveling to Australia as a young man and returning to Vienna with an illness so unknown in Austria that at first his physicians had no idea what was wrong with him.

And now, two decades later, even in the midst of one of the city’s most celebrated annual events, his greatest desire is to see a world in which no Lifeballs are needed to raise money and awareness for HIV and AIDs because both have been eradicated. And yet, throughout the years, despite medical advancements, Gery Keszler has witnessed the death of many friends along the way who haven’t been so lucky. And eventually, this leads to the question any of us would have – why them and why not me?

Vienna City Hall, Lifeball 2015

Vienna City Hall, Lifeball 2015

On stage between the carriages drawn by the Lipizzaner horses and fashion designed by Jean Paul Gaultier, death appeared spewing off quotes about life and death. For Viennese, death has always gone hand-in-hand with life and there is hardly a Viennese song or theater piece where death doesn’t make a sudden cameo appearance. And as always, death seems to be a rather witty, jolly fellow who is a bit disheartened that no one seems to like him. And yet, even in Vienna, or perhaps especially in a city like Vienna, where life and death, tomorrow and yesterday always seems to co-exist in a kind of tug-a-war until the city manages to shed off its old conservative ways like flakes of old skin giving way to the new underneath, the stigma of HIV and AIDs continues.

And not just in Vienna. When it comes to HIV and AIDs it’s like the whole world has become a group of Long Island gossiping grandmothers, raising their hands to their mouths as their voices lower to a barely audible whisper that so-and-so has AIDs. As if speaking the words aloud will summon the AIDs and HIV gremlins and incite them to spread ill will to all within hearing distance. It is as if we as a society have drafted an unspoken but agreed upon hierarchy of illnesses from honorable to dishonorable and HIV and AIDs has been placed at the bottom of the disease  totem pole next to leprosy and syphilis.

Lifeball 2015 marked the 23rd year of the event. Twenty-two Lifeballs have come and gone and Gery Keszler has witnessed friends sicken and die from a disease that with proper treatment and care should no longer be a death sentence. And all the while, as he has been greeting and receiving guests and messages of goodwill from the Prince Harrys, Bill Clintons and Elton Johns of the world, he has never once mentioned his very personal connection to HIV. Saturday night, standing on stage with tears streaming down his face, a babbling heap of conflictedness, mourning the death of a friend who died merely two weeks ago of the disease, Gery Keszler announced, “I am HIV positive. And I don’t know why I’m still here when so many others I have loved are not.”

Thank you, Gery Keszler for a wonderful Lifeball and a memorable evening. Hopefully, future generations challenged with a disease, any disease, will never have to waste precious time and energy combating social stigmas attached to them so severe that causes those afflicted to be damned to decades of silence about their personal battle and suffering.

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 One life, With each other, Sisters, Brothers

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GREEN LIGHT TO LIFEBALL – TONIGHT’S THE NIGHT

Vienna is buzzing and it’s not the bees pollinating the trees. The subway speakers are quoting Conchita Wurst wisdoms about love and tolerance and gay and lesbian tourists holding hands and taking snap shots outnumber those from Asia. Even the city’s pedestrian lights are flashing green pairs of ladies walking hand and hand. And this morning, heeding the Austrian “Akademische Viertel” that Viennese have extended to not just the university but all parts of life, I cum tempore c.t.-ed my way to the Press Office at 12:15 pm and picked up my bright green press pass wristband. “Vienna muses!” she said, smiling and handing me my wristband.

Vienna Lifeball

Vienna Pedestrian Crossing Lights – two ladies hand and hand

Vienna City Hall Lifeball 2015

Vienna City Hall Lifeball 2015

Armed with my ticket to the greatest party on earth, I opted to test its magic ASAP and flashed it to the guard at the Rathaus fence, who promptly let me slip in and snap a few shots of the City Hall.

The gold chariot awaits its driver and the cat walk is ready to go. The bars are up, the tent stations are manned and in less than five hours, Vienna’s craziest party of the year is about to begin.

But that’s not all. Thanks to my magical wristband, not only did I get some nice shots for you all of the Rathaus, but lo and behold, hurrying up the ramp to the stage, in a got-tons-to-do jot was Lifeball organizer, Gery Keszler himself – the man who must be utterly exhausted from all the preparations, and personally welcoming all the out-of-town “Promis” arriving at the Vienna airport. Pure adrenalin. And while I was kicking myself for not having my camera in ready-mode to get a better pix, he was all smiles and cheerful, making his rounds, checking it twice, making sure things will be perfect for the naughty and nice.

Gery Keszler

Gery Keszler – Lifeball Organizer – Making his rounds hours before the Opening

It’s time to Lifeball!!!

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Who’s on First, What comes Second, Vienna Building Codes, a Tower and Creative Genius

(HOW TO BE HIGHER THAN THE LEGAL LIMIT – for a limited time only)

Not macht erfinderisch. – Austrian adage (literally: Necessity renders innovation)

In Vienna, Abbot and Costello wouldn’t have been talking baseball (see video below) in their classic “Who’s on First?” skit, they would have been discussing floors.

“Who’s on first? What comes second? And where I am?”

No, the Viennese aren’t trying to have a little fun by putting one over on their foreign guests. (Though it is amusing the first time you witness an ignorant out-of-towner boldly, athletically, opting to take the stairs only to realize four floors up that the third floor is actually maybe the fourth, fifth or even the sixth).

Yes, the Viennese were being creative with their numbers long before it became fashionable on a worldwide scale to do so.

Rathaus at Sunset - view from Skyliner

Rathaus at Sunset – view from Skyliner

When the Vienna Building Ordinance stipulates (as it has for centuries) that no resident buildings within the so-called “Gürtel” (districts 1 -9) be taller than 5 floors – no problem. Start your building with a ground floor (Erdgeschoss). Maybe add a Mezzazin, Hochparterre or Belle-Etage and go from there to the first floor. What? A Mezzazin is supposed to be a half-floor, you say? No worries. No one’s checking. As long as the top floor is the 5th, all is good in the Empire. In the Republic. In the inner districts. For goodness sake, even the Vienna City Hall has a Mezzazin.

View of Burgtheater and St. Stephans from Vienna Skyliner Tower

View of Burgtheater and St. Stephans from Vienna Skyliner Tower

Despite Viennese finesse for creative solutions, the city has indeed managed to keep the building heights within the inner districts low and thus maintain a beautiful old town skyline for centuries. Now that’s good city planning.

And precisely the reason why you have to get yourself down to the Rathaus before March 8th. Because right now you can ascend the “City Skyliner Gondel” — a temporary tower –erected beside the Vienna City Hall (Rathaus) in honor of the Ringstrasse’s 150th anniversary and the 20th Anniversary of the Vienna Ice Dream (Eistraum) Skating Rink at the City Hall. Yes, the UFO-looking contraption has caused a fuss among some fun-spoiling Viennese sour grapes steadfast in their century-old ordinances (I would expect nothing less) but they’ve had their turn. Now it’s yours to enjoy a good view of this beautiful city. Go now while the winter sun is shining and don’t miss the limited opportunity (until March 8th!) to pay your 7 € (kids pay 4 €) and boogie on up the 81 meter high tower (you’ll be up 60 m high) that will offer you a slowly turning, 360 degree panorama view of Vienna. Buy a drink at the stand while waiting in line and take it up with you. No problem. The queue moves quickly (60 people per trip fit in) and the trip up lasts 7 minutes (one minute up, 5 minutes turning, one minute down). All seats are good because the tower turns and everyone ends up standing up anyway. Give a shout out to the little Rathaus man on top of the Rathaus. Maybe he’ll wave back. (In which case, don’t opt for the alcoholic beverage next time you go up).

How to get there: Subway U2 to Rathaus or to Schottentor and walk over or take trams 1, D or 71.
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Abbot & Costello: Who’s On First:

READ MORE:

Kurier: Kurier Article on Vienna City Skyliner

Wirtschaftsblatt: http://wirtschaftsblatt.at/home/nachrichten/oesterreich/wien/4641944/81-Meter-hoher-Turm-auf-dem-Rathausplatz-in-Wien

Der Standard: http://derstandard.at/2000010596318/Wiener-Eistraum-eroeffnet-und-mit-ihm-ein-81-Meter-Turm

 

 

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Vienna’s Christmas Markets 2014 – Tis the Season for Glühwein and Cheer!

Here it is – KC’s List of Vienna’s Christmas Markets

Cause Jolly Ol’ St. Nick do we have Christmas in this town!

Not able to swing by between now in Christmas – poor you — but don’t fret – you can always bring a bit of the Christmas Market home to you by brewing up some Glühwein (see “How to” of Glühwein post: http://www.kcblau.com/gluehwein/).

In Vienna? Then saddle up your sleigh and start making your rounds because there is a lot of Glühwein to be kosten here (or go for some Punsch if you dare). Now, if anyone asks, what’s the appeal of your evening market outings, act all Christkindl like and claim it’s all about finding just the right present for that special someone. The Viennese will give you a knowing nod cause they know why one is hanging out at the glittery tinsel strewn mistel toe stands this time of year and it is NOT to buy another beeswax candle.

Christmas Market

Christmas at Maria Thereseian Platz – Museum of Natural Hist. Photo courtesy of M. Gardzina

 Meet up with friends at one or — what the heck – all 21 or so markets and 1131 stands– so many choices and so little time and you have oh so many friends!

Gluehwein at Schönnbrunn Castle Christmas Market - photo courtesy of M. Gardzina

Gluehwein at Schönnbrunn Castle Christmas Market – photo courtesy of M. Gardzina

And if you don’t there are plenty of potentials all hanging out at these markets all over the city. Wer nicht wagt, der nicht gewinnt. Let’s face it. You could very likely be just one Glühwein away from your lifelong very best friend. Or two. Or three.

Important – the place to meet at the market is none other than the Glühwein stand. Suggest somewhere else and you are a hopeless foreigner. But same rule here as for the Sturm outing (see Sept. blog post: http://www.kcblau.com/?s=sturm) – no singing until the Austrians whip out their lighters and break out into the first verse of Stille Nacht (they rarely know the second). Once that happens, Unsilent your Night till the Fiakers roll home (or return).

 Where’s Christkindl? An indoor market? Candle light parade? Krampus? Abba?

Baked Goods

Baked Goods

Middle Ages market? Gospel music? Who’s got the Llama? Check it all out here:

Altes AKH (Allgemeines Krankenhaus) – Old General Hospital Adventmarket
Old AKH, Alserstr/Spitalgasse, Universitätscampus – Courtyard (Hof) 1
Start: Nov 15  Mo – Fr 2pm – 10pm; Sat, Sun, Holidays 11 am – 10 pm
http://www.weihnachtsdorf.at/altes-akh/der-markt/informationen/
Public: take U 2 to Schottentor and then tram 43 or 44 to Lange Gasse; trams 33 or 5 to Lange Gasse; Bus 13A to Skodagasse
Fri, Nov 28: KRAMPUS! @ 6 pm. Don’t miss ’em. Followed by Ron Glaser & Band at 7 pm.

Am Hof Adventmarket
Art & Antiques Market
Next to the Golden Quartier
Start: 14 Nov daily Mon – Thurs 11am – 10 pm; weekends: 10 am – 10 pm
As they say in German “Klein aber fein”
http://www.weihnachtsmarkt-markthof.at
Public: U3 to Herrengasse, 2 minute walk over Haarhof and Irisgasse; U1 to Stephansplatz then 10 minute lovely walk over Graben towards Meinl, then the Bognergasse; U2 to Schottentor then walk up Schottengasse, past (or first at) Freyung Christmas Market, further up road and hit Am Hof.

Am Hof Christmas Market

Am Hof Christmas Market

Belvedere Castle Adventmarket
At the Upper Belvedere directly in front of the pond
Start: Nov 21; Mo-Fr 11-9pm and Sat & Sun 10 – 9pm
Opening: Nov 21 @ 6 pm Babara Helfgott & Police Brass
http://www.weihnachtsdorf.at/schloss-belvedere/der-markt/informationen/
Public: U1 to Südtirolerplatz, tram D to stop Schloss Belvedere, 18/O stop Südbahnhof, or buses 13A or 69A Stop Südbahnhof (south train station)

Columbusplatz Adventmarket – (neighborhood market)
1100 Vienna
Start: as of Nov 28,
Daily 9 am – 9 pm, 12 stands, 2 food stands, (Dec 24: 9 am – 4 pm)

Favoritenstraße / Quellenstraße Adventmarket – (neighborhood market)
1110 Vienna
Start: Nov 14

Ornament Stand at Christmas Market in Vienna

Ornaments at Christmas Market. Photo courtesy of M. Gardzina

Favoriten (Pedestrian Zone) Adventmarket – (neighborhood market)
1100 Vienna
Start: as of Nov 14

Franz Jonas Platz Adventmarket – (neighborhood market)
Franz Jonas Platz 1, 1210 Vienna
Start: Nov 14
weekdays 9 am – 9 pm, Dec 24: 9 am – 3 pm

Freyung Adventmarket
“Altwiener Christkindlmarkt” (Old Vienna Christ Child Market)
Start: Nov. 21, daily 10 am – 9 pm
Celebration at opening on Friday, Nov 22 at 5 pm.
Featuring the longest manger scene – a 46 meter long reproduction of a manger painting by Josef Ritter von Fuehrich (1800 – 1876)  – a paper cut out of the manger scene can be purchased at Stand Nr 51
Dec 5 – Nikolaus is visiting so if you haven’t been too naughty, I’d go. And on Nov 29, learn how to make an advent wreath during the craft classes held every weekend from 10 am – 3:30 pm
http://www.altwiener-markt.at/start.html
Public: subway: U2 to Schottentor and walk down Schottengasse into town, or U3 to Herrengasse and walk past Café Central towards Schottengasse,  or bus 1A or 2A,

Heeresgeschichtliches Museum Adventmarket
Arsenal 18, 1030 Vienna
From Dec 6 – Dec 8  Hours 10 am – 6 pm
Highlight: Middle Ages Christmas Market
http://www.hgm.or.at/
Public: trams 18, D, O, Buses 13A, 69A, Subways U1 (Südtirolerplatz) or U3 (Schlachthausgasse) or Express Train (Schnellbahn) to station Südbahnhof Address and Info How to Get to Heeresgeschichtliches Museum via Public

Freyung Christmas Market

Freyung Christmas Market. Photo courtesy of M. Gardzina

Hirschstetten – Garden and Glass House of the Vienna City Gardens Adventmarket
“Christmas in the Alps” (This is a market I’ve never been to but will try to visit this year — sounds cool) Lots of organic foods – cheese, honey, Apfelmost, raspberry vinegar…
In the warm cozy glass houses of the flower gardens of Hirschstetten
Flower Gardens Hirschstetten, South Entrance, Quadenstrasse 15; North entrance: Oberfelgasse across from O Nr. 41
Start: as of 20 Nov, Thurs-Sun 10-8 pm
http://www.wien.gv.at/umwelt/parks/blumengaerten-hirschstetten/veranstaltungen/weihnachten.html
Public: subway U1 to Kagraner Platz and then Bus 22A 10 minutes to Hischenstetten, Süßenbrunner Str

Karlskirche Advent Market
Resselpark, 1040 Vienna
Arts and crafts
This year’s motto: “Fiery celebration” Stand after stand in front of the always lovely Karlskirche (https://divinaart.at)
Start:  21. Nov, daily from noon – 8 pm
Highlight: On Friday, Dec 13 at 5 pm they will have a candle light parade through the market to mark Santa Lucia Fest
They’ve got Llamas, folks! Fri – Sun, 2 pm – 5:30 pm Amadeus and Diego await your Llama love.

http://www.divinaart.at/kunsthandwerk/
Public: U4/U1/U2 >Karlsplatz, exit Resslpark, Trams 1 & 62, Buses 4A, 59A or walk from trams 1,2,or D from Kärntner Ring, Oper or bus 3A

Kirche (Church) Maria Hilf – (neighborhood market)
Mariahilferstrasse 55 , 1060 Vienna
Start: Nov 15, daily: 9 am – 8 pm

K.u.K. Christmas Market
Michaelerplatz, 1010 Vienna
Starts: Nov 15

Ornaments at Christmas Market

Ornaments at Christmas Market

Landstraßer Hauptstraße near Invalidenstraße Adventmarket – (neighborhood market)
1030 Vienna
Start: Nov 15

Mahlerstrasse Adventmarket – (neighborhood market)
1010 Vienna – beside the Opera by the Ringstrasse Gallerie
Start: Nov 14, daily: 11 am – 9 pm

Maria Theresien Platz  Adventmarket
Between the Art History Museum (Kunsthistorisches Museum) and Museum of Natural History (Naturhistorisches Museum)
Start: Nov 19 Daily 11am – 10 pm.
http://www.weihnachtsdorf.at/maria-theresien-platz/der-markt/informationen/
Public: U2 or U3 stations Volkstheater or Museumsquartier, trams along the Ring D, J, 1, 2 as well as 46 and 49 – Station: Dr. Karl Renner Ring or Bus 2A to Burgring, or 4A to Dr. Karl Renner Ring

Meidlinger Hauptstrasse Adventmarket – (neighborhood market)
1120 Vienna
As of Nov 15

Museumsquartier Adventmarket
Winter in the MQ
Museumsquartier 1, 1070 Vienna
Start: as of Nov 6, Mon – Fri: 4 pm – 11 pm; Sat, Dun, Holidays: 2pm – 11 pm
Public: subway U2 to Museumsquartier

Sausage Stand at Christmas Market

Sausage Stand at Christmas Market

Pink Christmas in Vienna NEW! FIRST YEAR!
(Queer, Pink & Proud)
Kettenbrückengasse, 1060 Vienna (Naschmarkt)
In honor of World Aids Day in cooperation with Aids Help Vienna
Start: Dec 1 – 24, 26- 31.
Mon – Fri 2 pm – 10 pm, Sat 10 am – 10 pm, Sun noon – 10 pm
Dec 24: 10 am – 6 pm, Dec 31: 2 pm – midnight
Public: subway U4 to Kettenbrückengasse
http://www.pink-christmas.org/
7 pm – Opening Show under the Motto: “We are Family!”

Prater / Riesenrad Adventmarket
“Prater Rocks”
In front of the Giant Ferris Wheel – Live Shows and Hot Punch
Every Thurs – Sat starting at 7 pm – live concerts with gospel, pop and soul music.
Sun, Nov 30: KRAMPUS! @ 5 – 6:30 pm. Don’t miss ’em “Perchtenlauf”: “Ybbstaler Schluchtenteufel” 
Start: Nov 22, Mo-Fr 12 – 10 pm, weekends 11 – 10 pm
http://www.wintermarkt.at/wintermarkt/
Public: U2 or U1 to Praterstern

Rathaus Christmas Market

Rathaus – Vienna’s biggest Christmas Market

Rathaus / Vienna City Hall Adventmarket
Highlights: See Vienna’s biggest market and official Christmas Tree – this year from the South Tyrol – over 140 years old and 28 meters high
Start: As of Nov 15, Sun – Thurs 10 am – 9:30 pm, Fri & Sat: 10 am – 10 pm
More Highlights: Lighting of the Christmas Tree: Saturday, November 15 at 5:30 pm with over 1000 energy efficient lights.
Starting Nov 17, Vienna’s high society will be reading Christmas stories at 6 pm almost every day at the “Himmelsbühne” (Heaven Stage).
And even more Highlights: The Christkindl (Christ Child – blonde girl) will be present Thurs – Sun 4 pm – 7 pm;
Christmas Post office with Christmas stamps for letters
http://www.christkindlmarkt.at/News-Events.3.0.html?&L=1
Public: trams 1 or D directly in front of Rathaus or take U2 subway to Schottentor or Rathaus and walk over

Schloss Hof Adventmarket
(A bit outside of Vienna in Gänserndorf)
Over 100 stands, musical concerts Saturdays at 5pm
Entrance: 5€ adults, 2€ kids or family tickets for 12 €
Start: 22. Nov.; weekends only, Saturdays 10am – 8pm; Sundays, 10am – 6pm
http://www.weihnachtsdorf.at/schloss-hof/der-markt/informationen/
Public: trains and buses – see info in German here:

https://www.schlosshof.at/en/visitors-information/how-to-get-there/

Krampus and KC

Krampus and KC @ Schloss Neugebaeude in 2013

Schloss Neugebäude Adventmarket
Otmar-Brix-Gasse 1, 1110 Vienna
Thurs Dec 4 2 pm – 8pm; Fri Dec 5 2 pm – 8 pm, Sat Dec 6 2 pm – 9 pm and Sun & Mom Dec 7 & 8 10 am – 8 pm

Krampus misunderstanding - he thinks KC's been naughty

Krampus misunderstanding – he thinks KC’s been naughty – 2013 at Schloss Neugebaeude

Highlight: Saturday, Dec 6 at 7:00 pm KRAMPUS and they are ready to hunt you down (http://www.kcblau.com/krampus/)  //ABBA show Monday Dec 8 @ 4 pm “Christmas Program”
http://www.schlossneugebaeude.at/
Public: subway U3 until Simmering and then with the bus 73A to Hörtengasse

Schloss Wilhelminenberg
Savoyenstrasse 2, 1160 Vienna
Kids can also ice skate next to the castle
Start: as of Nov 14, Mon – Thurs: 4pm – 9pm, Fri: 3pm – 9pm Sat, Sun (Holidays) 11am – 9pm
Public: bus 46B or 146B

Schönbrunn Christmas Market

Schönbrunn Christmas Market. Photo courtesy of M. Gardzina

Schönbrunn Castle  Adventmarket
Beautifully situated in the front of Schönbrunn castle.
On exhibit – 220 mangers carved from wood, Christ Child (Christkindl) from Nov 22 – Dec 26
Start: 22 Nov; Daily 10am – 9pm
http://www.weihnachtsmarkt.co.at/de/der-markt.php
Public: Subway U4/green line to Schönbrunn stop (for park) or Hietzing stop (for zoo)

Spittelberg Adventmarket
For crafts lovers and everyone else. One of my all-time favorite markets. The cobblestone lanes and little houses just feel like you are on the scene of Christmas train set. More than 100 stands and over 25 years old.
Start: Nov 14, Mo – Thurs 2pm – 9pm; Fridays 2 pm – 9:30 pm, Sat 10 am – 9:30 pm and Sundays and Holidays 10 am – 9 pm.
http://www.spittelberg.at/index.php?en_wm_programm
Public: tram 49, subway U2 to Volkstheater, bus 49A

Stephansplatz Christmas Market
Right beside Steffl, it doesn’t get more Christmasy than that.
Start:
Nov 15, daily from 11am – 9pm
http://www.weihnachtsmarkt-stephansplatz.at/index.html
Public: U1 / U3 Stephansplatz

Stephansdom Christmas Market in Vienna

Stephansdom Christmas Market in Vienna

Stift (Monastery) Schotten  Adventmarket
Breitenleer Strasse 247, 1220 Vienna
Start: Nov 30

Türkenschanzpark Adventmarket – (neighborhood market)
1180 Vienna
Start: as of Nov 14

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